By By Pablo A. Tariman
A Director's recipe for humor in the kitchen
posted 6-Aug-2018  ·  
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Nathalie Hart with Zanjoe Marudo and Empoy Marquez. Coquettish in the kitchen.

On this noonday presscon, Direk Victor Villanueva looks extremely passive as he arrives with the cast and writers of Kusina Kings.

Silent most of the time until he is asked to say a few words, the director isn’t the kind you can associate humor with. But the thing is he observes people a lot and from there he tells us how he got started in showbiz

Growing up in Cebu, he took up fine arts and advertising but got into the circle of people in the movies.

Before he knew it, he was directing an indie film, Patay Na Si Hesuswhich was one of the most patronized entries in last year’s Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP).

The film actually saw first public exposure in the 2016 Quezon City film fest and bagged the Audience Prize. When it landed in last year’s PPP, it won a special Jury Prize.

Now that he is handling a mainstream project, the young director admits he has to break free from certain perceived prerequisites of the indie film. “I know I am dealing with a bigger audience and a bigger budget with big stars to boot,” he says. “Those factors alone will make you think you have to find humor that everyone can really connect with.”

To be sure, Patay Na Si Hesus is dark comedy and its audience literally ate, cried and laughed all throughout the screening.  A young perceptive critic saw in the film some brilliant touches of “visual comedy, hilarious banter and yet touching from beginning to end.”

Direk Victor is always on the lookout for that element in the film that will show the heart of the characters and the story. “Whether you are handling comedy or drama, a film has to have a heart.”

And now the director finds himself handling domestic comedy set in the kitchen. For once, he will deal with chefs and food habitués and yes, find humor in the art of cooking and how to make a profit out of it.

There is mix of grimace and naughty smiles as the trailer of Kusina Boys is played over and over in the presscon that started quite late.

There is the overly sensual Nathalie Hart (still smelling of Sin Island) hugging Zanjoe Marudo in the kitchen and purring at him, “Nagbabate ka ba” (Are you beating something?) and then segues to another line, “Ang titigas naman ng muscle mo (Your muscle is pretty hard).”

But in the middle of talks about recipes and tales from the kitchen, Direk Victor admits, “The hard reality about this film is that I can’t cook. So, I have to try very hard to connect with the story and look as though I knew everything about cooking. Because I am dealing with chefs and cuisines and food dealers.”

But isn’t the trailer dialogue reeking of double entendre and slapsticks?

Early on, one is told Kusina Kings pays homage to Pinoy 90s comedy which partly explains the familiar ring of humor.

The director added the film was inspired by anime shows like Cooking Master Boy and Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma, among others.

But as the presscon goes on, you hear an element of the supernatural coming in somewhere in the middle of the film.

But if the trailer is of any indication, Kusina Boys could be Direk Victor’s dream cooking movie replete with kitchen favorites, naughty jokes and as one noticed early on, an unexpected supernatural twist.

Like it or not, the film has a kind of comedy that will bring back memories of Rene Requiestas and Palibhasa Lalaki. Of course, the main treat of the film is the unusual chemistry between Zanjoe (Marudo) and Empoy Marquez. I have not seen their kind of comedic rapport in a long, long time.”

On the whole, Direk Victor sums up the essence of his latest comedy. “While Patay na si Hesus went for a more deadpan style of humor, Kusina Kings wears its comedy on its sleeves. While retaining its absurd quality.”

Kusina Kings opened in cinemas last July 25.  It also stars Ryan Bang, Nathalie Hart, and Maxine Medina.


Direk Victor Villanueva with Zanjoe Marudo and Empoy Marquez. Unusual comedic rapport between two male leads.
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